THE COUNTIES, Ontario - The Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) has embarked on a three-year, biodiversity-enhancement project at Cooper Marsh Conservation Area. Supported by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), this project will feature initiatives such as habitat planting and enhancement, invasive species control, biodiversity monitoring, and outreach and education.
“The RRCA’s Cooper Marsh Conservation Area is part of one of the most significant wetlands in Ontario,” says RRCA Stewardship Specialist, Brendan Jacobs, who is leading the project. “It provides valuable habitat to many different plants and animal, including nearly 200 species of birds, 6 different species of amphibians and at least three different species of turtles."
The Conservation Area, with its 11.5 km nature trail and boardwalk system, is also a popular site for people looking to connect with nature. Lately, visitors to the Marsh may have noticed that some areas have become a haven for invasive species such as purple loosestrife, phragmites and buckthorn.
“These invasive species can easily take over, pushing out native plants and the animals that rely on them for habitat and food sources,” says Jacobs. “Part of the Biodiversity Project’s goal will be to control or eradicate the spread of invasive species in the Marsh and replace them with diverse, native species.”
To help with monitoring the Marsh’s biodiversity, the RRCA is organizing a long-form, virtual bioblitz. With the help of iNaturalist’s free Seek mobile app, visitors to Cooper Marsh are encouraged to engage their inner biologist and identify the various plant and animal species they find during their visits.
“The Seek app is a fantastic tool for the local community to help in biodiversity monitoring,” says Jacobs. “You are able to identify and learn about a plant or animal simply by taking a picture of it with your phone. Then, with the push of a button, you can share the location of your observation on the app, providing us with valuable help in compiling data for the project.”
Jacobs adds that the app is also a fun and easy way for visitors at Cooper Marsh to learn about the Marsh’s biodiversity, especially when it comes to plants. “There are so many interesting and unique plant species to discover,” he says. “Using the Seek app while visiting any of the RRCA’s three Conservation Areas can easily become a bit like going on a treasure hunt.” A link to download the app can be on the RRCA’s website at rrca.on.ca.
The Cooper Marsh Conservation Area is part of the larger Charlottenburgh Marsh – one of the most significant wetlands in all of Ontario. The RRCA actively maintains, protects, enhances, and restores this natural area.
The Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project is supported by OPG’s Regional Biodiversity Program, which actively supports conservation organizations with a focus on reforestation projects and protecting wetlands, grasslands, and lake and river projects. The RRCA is grateful for OPG’s investment in Cooper Marsh Conservation Area.